Bihar prospective allies fight over seat sharing

It’s now more than 10 days since the Congress decided to jettison Nitish Kumar and stitch an alliance with the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) and the he Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) in Bihar. 

Sources told Deccan Herald that four of the 40 Lok Sabha constituencies have become a bone of contention among the prospective allies.

There are two constituencies which Paswan is reportedly not prepared to yield to others at any cost. One of them is the Maoist -infested Jamui, which Paswan wants as a launch pad for his actor-turned-politician son Chirag. But, Bihar Congress president Ashok Choudhary has staked a claim to the reserved constituency.

Another contentious seat is the Samastipur (reserved) parliamentary constituency, which Paswan has earmarked for his brother Ram Chandra Paswan. But, former Congress Working Committee member Ashok Kumar is not willing to forego his candidature.

Another point of contention is the Madhubani seat, from where RJD candidate in the 2009 Lok Sabha polls Abdul Bari Siddiqui lost by a margin of less than 10,000 votes. Congress national spokesman Shakeel Ahmad said he had earlier represented this seat in 2004.

As if these three seats were not enough, the Khagaria seat is said to be the latest bottleneck. The Congress has made up its mind to field former Bihar Congress president Mehboob Ali Kaisar, party vice-president Rahul Gandhi’s blue-eyed boy, from there. But, the RJD’s chief whip in the Assembly, Samrat Choudhary, has expressed a desire to contest from the constituency, which was once represented by his father Shakuni Choudhary. Samrat went to the extent of issuing a veiled threat to RJD chief Lalu Prasad that the party could split if his candidature from Khagaria was ignored. 

It’s now an arduous task for Yadav to keep his flock together as well as keep the Congress in good humour. A solution was worked out at Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde’s residence in Delhi on Wednesday, where it was reportedly suggested that the RJD should contest from 20 seats, while the Congress should get another 20 constituencies. From its quota, the Congress may give the LJP seven or eight seats, while one or two seats will be left to the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP). This includes the Katihar constituency from where NCP leader Tariq Anwar is likely to be fielded. 

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